Butternut Squash and Broccoli Lasagna

We are in the shoulder season between our winter stash of cold room and preserved foods and the garden's spring bounty. One day it feels like summer and we are digging in the soil and the next we have a few inches of snow.

I am fortunate that there is a gardener in town who has already begun her microgreen crop. Fresh is best when it comes to pea shoots. The grocery store isn't fresh enough unless you live in a big city.

This vegetarian lasagna can be made with whatever is available. I am using butternut squash and broccoli alongside my homemade ricotta cheese. Serve with a green salad.

Butternut Squash and Broccoli Lasagna

1 butternut squash
1 lb. broccoli
olive oil
coarse sea salt
black pepper
1 pound fresh ricotta
1 pound mozarella cheese
1 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
red chile flakes
pasta sheets

Béchamel Sauce:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf

Slice the squash in half and scoop out all the seeds and discard. Slice squash into 1/2 inch slices and peel. When the entire squash has been sliced and peeled, toss lightly in olive oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake in a 400 F oven for about 12 minutes or until barely tender.

Meanwhile cut the broccoli into florets and blanch in salted, boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain and chill in cold water. Drain thoroughly. Chop coarsely. Toss with a little olive oil, season with sea salt, pepper and chile flakes. Set aside.

Combine the ricotta, mozarella, one cup of grated Parmesan, lemon zest, sage and rosemary. Set aside

Make the béchamel by melting the butter in a medium sized pot. Then add the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes but do not let it brown. Slowly whisk in the milk. Add bay leaf and grated nutmeg. Heat to a simmer and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Transfer to the top of a double boiler and keep warm until needed.

Boil pasta sheets in a big pot of salted water until barely al dente. Drain and cut into pieces that fit a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish.

To put it all together begin by ladling a half a cup of béchamel sauce in the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of pasta. Then add a third of the squash and broccoli. On top of that add about a third of the cheese mixture. This will be in small chunks. Add a cup of béchamel. Top with another layer of pasta and repeat two more times. Top with pasta and the remainder of the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. At this point the lasagna can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Bake at 375 F for about 45 minutes. It should be bubbling. If the top has not browned place under the broiler for a minute or two. Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6 to 8 people.


Subbing Calendar

This is simply a calendar for my subbing days. No other info! Sorry.

The following dates show my booked days and openings -

April 20 - pm only at SCCHS
April 21 - not available morning only. pm at Central School. 
April 22 - all day Ruskin School
April 23 - open
April 24 - all day SCCHS
April 27 - all day All Saints
April 28 - all day All Saints
April 29 - all day Waldeck Colony
April 30 - open

May 1 - open
May 4 - open
May 5 - open
May 6 - all day SCCHS
May 7 - open
May 8 - pm only Irwin   morning is open
May 11 - open
May 12 - open
May 13 - pm only All Saints
May 14, 15, 19 - all day All Saints
May 20 - all day SCCHS
May 21 - open
May 22 - all day Waldeck Colony
May 26 - open
May 27 - all day SCCHS
May 28 - open
May 29 - not available

June 1 - open
June 2 - open
June 3 - open
June 4 - open
June 5 - all day SCCHS
June 8 - all day SCCHS
June 9 - open
June 10 - all day Waldeck Colony
June 11 - open
June 15 - open
June 16 - open
June 17 - open
June 18 - open
June 22 - open
June 23 - open
June 24 - open
June 25 - open

also not available Fridays June 12, 19, 26 due to my participation in the Farmers' Market on Saturdays.

I hope this works for everybody! Thank you. Let me know if there are problems accessing this page.


Coconut OIl - How do you use it?

This is the end of my coconut product spree! Thank you to Epicurex for all the free samples. I don't often have free offers. It was a treat.

I have been curious to try many new products, but living here, in the middle of nowhere, it isn't always easy. Now I know how simple it is to order these from Amazon. I had to pay the shipping on this but it was only $5.00

How do you all use coconut oil? I have never tried it. Oil is a bit of a misnomer. After all, we don't call butter 'milk oil'. I have seen the term coconut butter and that is more descriptive of the product. This is a very hard fat even at room temperature.

I suppose before all the changes in attitudes and research on solid fats 'oil' presented better. But it is definitely not an oil.

I tasted this coconut butter and it's yummy. It has a pure coconut flavour. I like my coconut in curries and in desserts. Coconut oil has a high smokepoint and therefore, a good choice for pan sautéing or frying. At 130 calories per tablespoon it is slightly higher in calories than butter at 100 calories per tablespoon. Researching the calories I found that different brands of coconut oil and also, butter, varied slightly in caloric content. So be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label on the product.

In Canada you can order your Cocozia coconut oil here from Amazon.ca


Molasses Pumpkin Loaf with Candied Ginger

I found a little pie pumpkin (not pumpkin pie) in my cold room from last summer's harvest. After roasting it and making pumpkin puree I checked my pantry for more inspiration. With lots of raisins and candied ginger in stock I turned to my favourite cookbook, Chef Google. A quick search online yielded an interesting recipe from Suburbia Unwrapped. With a few tweaks to her recipe it was ready for the oven.

I am using spelt flour but all purpose would work equally well. If your raisins have dried out a bit, like mine were, plump them in very hot water for 15 minutes before adding to the batter. Be sure to drain them well first.

Molasses Pumpkin Loaf with Candied Ginger

Wet Ingredients
 3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1/2 c. fancy molasses
1 1/2 c. pumpkin purée

Dry Ingredients
3 1/2 c. spelt flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground nutmet
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 c. raisins
1/2 c. coarsely chopped candied ginger

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Prepare two loaf pans by lightly oiling or buttering the insides.

Add all of the wet ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment beat until foamy and all are well combined.

Add all of the dry ingredients to a separate bowl. Whisk to fully incorporate all the ingredients.

Now switch to using the paddle attachment with your stand mixer. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Beat on medium low until incorporated. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix again until incorporated. Add raisins and candied ginger and mix.

Pour the batter into two prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350 F for approximately 50 minutes. Gently touch the top of the loaf. If it springs back after gentle pressure it is cooked.

Remove from the oven and let rest in the pans for five or ten minutes. Run a table knife around the sides of the cake in the pan and then invert the pan on a cooling rack. Cool about 15 minutes before slicing (if you can wait that long). Thickly slice and serve. This loaf freezes well. After fully cooled, slice and package in freezer bags. Will keep up to three months.


Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Fiddlehead Pesto

I am still finding fiddleheads in the nooks and crannies of my freezer. Last spring I put together a bulk order from my little town and brought in 25 pounds of these delicate fern tips from the boreal forests of Northern Saskatchewan. I pickled a few to sell at the market. They were a curiosity and sold well. I find that a few pickled fiddleheads add an artistic touch to a charcuterie platter.

In addition to buying more than I really needed for myself there were a couple of no-shows on pick up orders. Hence, the freezer stash.

For no particular reason I have always thought these to be uniquely Canadian or at least North American. My Canadian born cousin living in New Zealand was baffled by fiddleheads until I gave a description. I have since been introduced to pikopiko ferns, as the Maori call them. This pesto is inspired by a Maori recipe.

The tenderloin would benefit from a generous crust of sea salt and coarse black pepper. I failed to think of this until it was on my fork. The pesto is not salted, other than the Parmesan cheese.

Removing the silver skin from the tenderloin takes this dish from the ordinary to the gourmet. Silver skin does not tenderize with cooking.

I was delighted to find that the unique flavour of the fiddleheads does shine through. It isn't simply a flavourful stuffing but also a delightful way to serve a vegetable.

The pesto recipe can fill three tenderloins. If you are only cooking one save the remainder to use on flatbreads and crostini just as a basil pesto might.

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Fiddlehead Pesto

1 pork tenderloin
1 recipe Fiddlehead Pesto

 Remove silver skin. It will not tenderize with cooking. Slit the tenderloin open.

Fill with pesto and tie shut. Season generously with salt and cracked pepper.

Heat canola oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Brown the tenderloin on all sides. Then place in a 350F oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 160F. Remove from oven and tent with foil to rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve with any juices that collected on the bottom of the dish.

 Fiddlehead Pesto

3 cups of boiling water with a pinch of salt
250g frozen or fresh fiddlehead greens, approx. 2 cups
1/3 cup olive oil, add more if needed
3 tablespoons crushed pine nuts or walnuts
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook fiddleheads in boiling water with salt 8 minutes, drain very well. Set aside.

Crush nuts and garlic in a mortar and pestle. Add to a food processor. Add fiddleheads, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Process until smooth. Presto. You are done. Use as desired.


Violets in my Garden

That's the name of another blog of mine. Life musings. About change. New things. Adapting. Perhaps there will be food.

Violets in my Garden